CoolIT ECO A.L.C. Review

There’s a bit of a story behind me being so eager to review this unit, so bear with me for a minute.  I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a water cooling setup for a few years now.  But every time I’ve come close to buying an expensive, high end water setup, I’ve realized how completely useless one would be for my purposes.

During the time I’ve spent on the OC benching team, I’ve realized I’m an air guy.  If I want to push any clocks past the cooling capability of a high end air cooler, I grab some dry ice or liquid nitrogen.  Of course when I’m out of the cold stuff, and wanting to do some benching at 2:00am, I start wishing I had some better non-extreme cooling options laying around.  But those few times don’t justify the expense of spending however much a high end water setup costs.

The computer I use for a daily driver is usually a mATX setup, often run at stock, or close to stock settings.  In my small mATX box, there’s hardly room for the stock Intel HSF, much less anything more substantial.  Last month I reviewed MSI’s H55M-ED55 and liked it enough to start using it for my primary computer, along with a Core i3 530.  We all know the overclocking potential on Intel’s new(ish) 32nm CPUs, and although I hadn’t had my daily computer overclocked in quite a long time, I couldn’t resist on this one.  After all, I had already volt modded the motherboard for vcore, and with the resistor tuned to maximum resistance, there is a couple tenths of a volt increase in vCore, so why waste it?  And removing the volt mod would have been silly.  So I bumped the CPU frequency to around 3.3GHz, I didn’t want to go much higher on the stock Intel heatsink.  So my search began for a better cooling solution for my tiny mATX case.  I again toyed with the idea of building a water cooling system, but in addition to the cost involved, the thought of having all the extra water cooling gear hanging out of my case, like a radiator, pump, reservoir, etc., didn’t appeal to me all that much.

When I was asked to review CoolIT’s ECO A.L.C., it was like a light went off in my head.  Why hadn’t I thought of this before?  A full water setup hanging out of my case is an idea I wasn’t too fond of, but a couple of small water lines and a single 120mm radiator is no problem.

In the past few years, CoolIT has built their reputation on delivering quality and innovation, both by introducing new ideas to the computer cooling market, and improving on existing ones.

First Look


CoolIT ECO A.L.C. Box

CoolIT ECO A.L.C. Box

Product Features:

CoolIT CPU FHE (Fluid Heat Exchanger)
Copper Micro-Channel

Universal Retention System
Out of the box support provided
for Intel 775, 1156, 1366 and
AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3 sockets.

CoolIT Proprietary Pump
Quiet, compact, long life CFF1 pump
Ceramic bearing
Life Cycle: 50,000 Hours MTTF

CoolIT Coolant
CoolIT Systems low toxicity with anticorrosion/anti-fungal additives

CoolIT Radiator
Custom engineered for low noise high heat dissipation

CoolIT Fan
High reliability, Quiet 12V
Speed: 1800 RPM MAX

CoolIT CPU Thermal Grease
CoolIT Systems Pro A.T.C.
(Advanced Thermal Compound)

CoolIT 2 Year Manufacturer Warranty

The ECO A.L.C. comes in a simple white box, as if CoolIT doesn’t feel they need to add gaudy packaging to sell a product.  I like it.

CoolIT ECO A.L.C. Box Back

CoolIT ECO A.L.C. Box Back

CoolIT ECO A.L.C. Packaging

CoolIT ECO A.L.C. Packaging


CoolIT ECO A.L.C. Accessories

CoolIT ECO A.L.C. Accessories

The ECO A.L.C. comes with mounting for LGA 775, 1156, 1366, and AM2/AM3 sockets.  There is a backplate for each Intel socket, but the mounting screws on the block are adjustable, so the backplate is the only part that changes between different Intel sockets.

CoolIT ECO A.L.C. Next to H50

CoolIT ECO A.L.C. Next to H50

Going by online pictures alone, I was expecting the ECO’s block to be a little smaller than Corsair’s H50. But once mounting is taken into consideration, they’re roughly the same size.  However, the CoolIT unit certainly looks better in my opinion.

CoolIT ECO ALC - Block/Pump

CoolIT ECO ALC - Block/Pump

CoolIT ECO ALC Block/Pump 2

CoolIT ECO ALC Block/Pump 2

CoolIT ECO A.L.C. Block/Pump 3

CoolIT ECO A.L.C. Block/Pump 3

CoolIT ECO A.L.C. Block Base

CoolIT ECO A.L.C. Block Base

CoolIT ECO A.L.C. Base Cleaned

CoolIT ECO A.L.C. Base Cleaned

The CoolIT ECO A.L.C. features a nice, smooth square copper base.  Before installing the ECO A.L.C., I removed the stock TIM and cleaned the base with ArctiClean.

CoolIT ECO A.L.C. Mounted

CoolIT ECO A.L.C. Mounted

CoolIT ECO A.L.C. Mounted 2

CoolIT ECO A.L.C. Mounted 2

CoolIT ECO A.L.C. + Antec Aria

CoolIT ECO A.L.C. + Antec Aria

CoolIT ECO A.L.C. Ready For Testing

CoolIT ECO A.L.C. Ready For Testing

Testing

You can see the typical configuration for this unit on CoolIT’s website.  This wasn’t a viable configuration in my case.  Although I could have grabbed a full size ATX case from my shelf and installed everything in it, I felt fitting the ECO A.L.C. into my primary computer was more relevant.

Testing setup:

  • Core i5 530 @ 4214MHz
  • MSI H55M-ED55
  • 2x2GB D9JNL DDR3 @ 1530MHz, 7-7-7-20 1T
  • Onboard Intel GMA HD graphics @ ~900MHz
  • Antec Aria mATX case
  • CPU Cooling: CoolIT ECO A.L.C. and Corsair H50
  • Thermal interface material: Arctic Silver 5

Fans tested:

  • Stock configurations
  • Corsair H50 stock fan on both units
  • Panaflo FBA12G12M
  • Delta FFB1212VHE

Mounting method: I mounted each cooling solution five times, with Arctic Silver 5, and took the results from the best mount.  Actually, all of the mounts with the CoolIT unit were extremely consistent.  Mounting the Corsair unit was a bit more challenging, especially in my tiny case.  But once mounted, results were also reasonably consistent.  When I say extremely consistent, I mean <1° margin.  When I say reasonably consistent, I mean between one and two degrees.  It’s hard to get a bad mount on a heatsink if you’ve done it a thousand times, regardless if you’ve used the product before or not.

Each fan was run at full speed, connected directly to the computer’s power supply, as opposed to the CPU fan header.  Ambient temps remained consistently between 23° and 24° C.

Testing method: For idle temperature testing, I let the processor idle for 5 minutes and took a screenshot.  For load testing, I loaded the CPU with LinX v.0.6.4 set to 4 threads.  I took the CPU reading after 5 minutes.

Testing Results

For the first round of testing, each unit was equipped with it’s stock fan, so essentially an “out of the box” configuration.  In these stock configurations, the two units show nearly equal performance.

Stock Fan Temperature Results

Stock Fan Temperature Results

Next, I mounted the H50′s stock fan to the ECO A.L.C. to get a comparison with both units having an identical low-speed fan.  Using the same low speed fan, while idle temperatures are near identical, the H50 seems to have a small edge over the ECO A.L.C.

Corsair Fan Temperature Results

Corsair Fan Temperature Results

Switching over to a more substantial fan evened things back out.  Panaflo’s FBA12G12M offers a nice balance between noise and performance.  If I was running the ECO A.L.C. inside a normal case, this is the fan I would pair with it.

FBA12G12M Temperature Results

FBA12G12M Temperature Results

The Delta FFB1212VHE is a monster, bringing temps down about as far as they’re going to go given the ambient temperature during testing.  Again, both units are fairly even.

FFB1212VHE Temperature Results

FFB1212VHE Temperature Results

Final Thoughts And Conclusion

CoolIT has done an outstanding job of taking a proven design, and putting their own spin on it.  Comparable to Corsair’s H50 in both price and performance, I feel the ECO A.L.C. offers a substantial value advantage, based on the superior mounting method alone.  Since I finished the testing for this review several weeks before finally getting this published, I’ve had the ECO A.L.C. in continuous operation, cooling the same processor as above, clocked at 4.6GHz, running Folding@Home 24/7.  Performance has remained consistent, and I’ve had no problems to speak of.  My implementation of this unit is somewhat unique, and if I had to choose any cooling solution for my unique situation, it would be the CoolIT ECO A.L.C. hands down.

I’d like to thank CoolIT and Overclockers.com for making testing of this product possible, as well as being extremely patient while I took my time to get this review written.

- sno.lcn

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Discussion
  1. Those are good looking fans, and $14 a pop isn't too bad either. Maybe in a month, lol...I'm tired of tinkering, want to enjoy for a bit, lol.

    Well I ended up using my Delta fan by it's self in a pull configuration. The temps are pretty much the same, however my case has excellent air flow...this may not be ideal for everyone. I dropped the push pull cause without identical fans I was getting some odd fan noise.

    Anyways, ~3800, at 1.4v on CPU and 1.2v on CPU/NB (no C&Q), I idle at 32c and load up at 53c.
    Well...got curious/bored, ran a few tests.

    I have a Delta 2600 RPM "Cessna Propeller" :D, the 1800 RPM ECO stock fan (that they say was custom designed for this application), and a random Coolermaster red LED case fan...I estimate it around 1200 RPMs.

    First off...having a slower push fan didn't seem to make much difference with either the stock ECO fan or my high RPM Delta, except perhaps some mild noise increase. I tried it both ways, on and off.

    The 1200 RPM case fan pushing by it's self was not very efficient...as expected. There was a lot of blow back as air would rather back up then fly through the radiator. I know...duh :rolleyes:

    The Delta 2600 RPM fan in a pull config did the best, but also gave me a mild headache. It's so loud at that speed.

    The factory ECO fan at 1800 RPM did very well, falling just ~2 degrees (Celsius) short of the Delta.

    I noticed the factory ECO's fan blades have a better pitch and a bit more blade area, most likely for a mild compressing effect to help pull air through the radiator. I don't have any other radiators running around my house right now, but from memory this one looks to have a tighter fin pattern.

    So, everything is exactly like you might think...if you paired up 2 super-kick-ass fans in a push<>pull I'm sure this device would perform better. duh :rolleyes:

    But the factory ECO fan does seem optimized for the best of both worlds, performance and silence. I wish I had the money for a pair of really quiet performance fans...as I bet that would be fantastic.

    All be told, the factory fan in a pull is probably your best bet, short of spending lots more $$$ on a pair of good after market fans. Even still, I doubt you would see more than a 5 degree difference....if 5 degrees means that much to you, I suggest going full water and building a loop. :rock:
    Looked it up. It's .36 Amps on startup, .083 running.

    http://catalog.nidec-servo.com/digital/english/general/g_fab/

    D1225C low speed (PDF)

    So a .36 Amp rating per fan is needed to calculate for a fan controller.
    Best fan I've seen was a san ace 260cfm...I bet you could grab a couple more C out of your processor, or if you felt like living dangerously, spend $80 and get 2 of em ;) (if your computer's on wheels it might roll away :D :D :D)
    m0r7if3r
    You should see what happens if you take the lower rpm fan off, I've seen temps get better when people take off the lower end of non-matching fans because the other fan was having to pull the lower rpm fan along.


    Darn...now you have me thinking, lol. The way I have it now is kinda fun though, my case fan that I have pushing is a set RPM case fan...constantly running around 1200 RPMs, I've played around with my smart fan configuration on the BIOS and have my high RPM Delta managed by PWM so that it turns off when I'm below 30c...once it hits around there it spools up as needed topping out at an obnoxious 2600 RPMs at 55c. I'm trying for a good balance of maximum cooling and maximum quiet.

    I think there might be some real validity to your hypothesis though...unfortunately I have a very picky 965BE...darn thing will run 3.8ghz all day on stock voltage...but my next leap to 4ghz requires more than 1.51v...and I'm still not stable.

    All that said, I've had a few water setups in my day...the way thing is acting I could have a 10,000 RPM fan on there...at a certain point it's not the airflow over the rad, but rather the loop just wasn't designed for that kind of voltage. :thup:
    You should see what happens if you take the lower rpm fan off, I've seen temps get better when people take off the lower end of non-matching fans because the other fan was having to pull the lower rpm fan along.
    Conumdrum
    Yep. At first we all said junk.

    It's not junk.

    It's a good better looking CPU HS that happens to have a bit of water in it.

    Another validation that it's not all bad.

    Still have to mod the case airflow in many situations with old cases and replace/add fans. Just like any PC modder setup.


    Agreed. Without my door on the PC (my door contains 2 120mm fans pushing in towards the mobo) the NB and mosfet (?) heatsink on my motherboard did really start to heat up, as did my video cards. Definitely need to think about overall airflow for the things not water cooled when installing.

    Just did a few quick overclocking runs...the ECO hung in there pretty well up to about 1.51v...not sure what that relates to in actual wattage, but it started to fall behind around there...creeping up to 60c. Below 1.5v it would usually level out around 50-55c. The air coming off the rad wasn't overly warm...so I'd have to pin that heat jump on flow rate. Small tubes, small pump, and 90 degree turns.

    It's definitely not "good" water cooling, but in a portable Frag Box, an HTPC, or for someone who doesn't clock real hard just wanting some silence it's a decent buy. Probably cool a dual core like none other.
    Yep. At first we all said junk.

    It's not junk.

    It's a good better looking CPU HS that happens to have a bit of water in it.

    Another validation that it's not all bad.

    Still have to mod the case airflow in many situations with old cases and replace/add fans. Just like any PC modder setup.
    Sorry for bringing an old post back from the dead...:D

    But I ran across a deal I couldn't pass up this weekend while looking for some water blocks for a friend...long story short, I ran across one of these units pretty cheap and my curiosity got the best of me. (Impulse buying.)

    So far I have to say, I'm pretty impressed with it. Installation was a breeze for me, much easier to install then my old giant air cooler. With my old air cooler complete motherboard removal was needed to re-seat it...even with my case having motherboard tray access, the fastening screws were impossible to get to. I have it in a push pull with the air exiting the case. I don't like the idea of introducing more hot air into the case as the Corsair cooler recommends. I did swap out the provided fan with one I had laying around that is capable of much higher CFMs, though I haven't needed to run it past the 1800 RPM specs of the Coolit fan. The "push" is provided by my existing low RPM (~1200) Coolermaster case fan...I merely relocated it to the front of the radiator. I'm not sure the push pull is really needed (or helpful), but my case fan was wired into the case (Coolermaster Storm Scout) pretty well so I didn't remove it. I was out of thermal paste so I just used the stuff that comes applied to the Coolit block.

    So far it's keeping me idle around 27c and hasn't broken 51c after an hour of prime...thats without me cranking my high CFM fan past 1800 RPMs. It's still reasonably quite at this level, quieter than my air cooler was for sure. Granted that is at stock volts 1.39v and 3800ghz...but it's still a vast improvement over my old air cooler, which wasn't great to begin with. (My NB/CPU voltage is at 1.25v for the record.)

    As stated, it's definitely not a replacement for a large diameter custom H20 system...no way, but it seems to be holding it's own with most of the top air coolers. I like that it's smaller and lighter on the motherboard than a lot of air coolers. I move my PC around a lot, I always worry about that heavy air cooler flexing and stressing the motherboard. It's also nice to have a little room around the RAM slots, and as stated, is way easier to install And, yes, there is something to the "bling factor"...it does look kinda cool. Not as cool as a multi loop custom system, but it's a nice trade off for someone on the go. My only concern is it's lifespan. I guess come talk to me in a year about that, lol.

    pros: works pretty well, installs easily, more room inside the case, no worries on mobo stressing, small bling factor.

    cons: little expensive, only "on par" with top air coolers, not as quiet as true watercooling should be, longevity concerns?







    All in all, I'm really pleased with it. If they make a 220 version I might have to check it out...though, with a 220 version the ease of installation will probably go out the window.
    evensen007
    I don't get the point of these really. You have to put a blower on these things that makes a ton of noise to get any real performance out of them IMHO. At that point, you could get a MegaH etc. that would perform better...


    Really?? You obviously dont know the capabilities of these coolers. Ive used high end air, extreme water (had a loop on my i7 with 3.120 and 2.120 dedicated, i7 920 at 4.2ghz never went above 56c).

    I currently use a H50 for the rig in my sig. I have 2 deltas on it running at 5v. It keeps my i5 @ 63c full load in LINX, under 60c for daily computing.. I had a TRUE with the same fans that was 20c higher with the same clocks, same CPU.
    I don't get the point of these really. You have to put a blower on these things that makes a ton of noise to get any real performance out of them IMHO. At that point, you could get a MegaH etc. that would perform better...
    30 GPH? So .5 GPM? Hmm. Guess so low end sytem, maybe all it needs.

    Aluminum rad and tubing

    0.1 Amp draw. Notice it say nominal? Meaning low draw, not at max. It HAS to be higher in reality, love to put an amp meter on this.

    70C max temp. Is that the CPU temp or water temp? Many run above 70C on the CPU.

    110 cm head pressure or 3.7 feet. Not great, okay for this system.

    Overall, it's great for the masses. Many can keep an i7 cool now with this setup. And once they get the bug they will move to real watercooling and spend lots more, adding more for research and development and competition.

    It's all good for us custom watercoolers, and we shouldn't shun it too hard. Take it for what it is and educate the noobs "It's not that bad, but on the other hand, when you want to expand, we have a trash can right over there so you can start over".

    Jolly, thanks, it really is a great move, I hope it opens the WC eyes for many new folks. The h50 and the basic coolit fell just a bit short, no real temp benefit.

    Hopefully sno will get one asap to test. I'm excited!
    Conumdrum
    I suppose we could come to a basic conclusion. If the pump is adequate for the flow rates, these blocks internals are probably somewhat the same, it comes down to the size of the rad. Since they are equal, I'd say both validate what rad size is all about. I'm hoping someone hacks a 120x2 rad on one of these someday.

    If it's valid and rather easy, putting a 120x2 out the back could really change entry level watercooling. $70 for the H50 or ECO, and $40 for a Swiftech MCR 220? And a bit of hose/clamps? Hmm thats $120.


    Jolly-Swagman
    Nice Review, sno.lcn,

    CoolIT are in the Planing stage of also bringing these out with Option of having 120x2 Rad soon, and maybe 240 Rad

    I will be getting sent to me a Couple (free samples) of there CoolIT VANTAGE ALC Systems, should be some time early June so will also look forward to Testing them out,

    Will be the first person in Australia to receive them even ahead of Retailers!


    I'll throw a 120x2 on it in a few weeks then and see how she does :cool:
    The ECO A.L.C. would be better as a single unit (that can't be disassembled) than a lot of what is listed on that page, if not in temps, at least in installation and longevity over them. We also have this lovely conclusion at the bottom of the page:

    Let's not forget this gem from further up the page:

    Cooler Master is a good brand, but not for water cooling. The "best" pc water cooling is a custom system. The best kits come from Swiftech, which are just quality systems people would normally buy separately thrown in a box.

    Thermaltake is perhaps the worst, most poorly regarded water cooling solution there could be yet they seem to be highly recommended there.

    I'm sure you were trying to help, and I thank you for that. I just felt I needed to bring this stuff to your (and others') attention, lest someone start their water cooling journey based on that information.